THE MIND OF THE STRATEGIST: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae

THE MIND OF THE STRATEGIST: The Art of Japanese Business

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Samurai-style business strategies (he says it himself)--with some striking marketplace applications. Ohmae is an MIT-trained Japanese management guru, head of the Tokyo office of McKinsey & Co., and the book is adapted from a Japanese original; it has the requisite recipe-for-success--""the combination of analytical method and mental elasticity that I call strategic thinking""--but it rests, intrinsically and more interestingly, on two precepts: gaining competitive superiority (lacking competition, you need improvements not strategy) and putting customer interests first. (Corporate freebooters who run myriad businesses ""very much alike""--the prewar Japanese zaibatsu, current US conglomerates--seldom ""sustain a profitable leadership position."") In Part I, ""The Art of Strategic Thinking,"" Ohmae explains how to identify the key factors for success in each industry--by dissecting the market, by discovering what distinguishes winners from losers; and how to build on relative superority (quality, service), or challenge prevailing assumptions (an electric blanket to sleep on, a camera with a built-in flash), or exploit ""strategic degrees of freedom"" (instead of road-bound cars, bucking public transport, ""helicopterlike vehicles""?). Part II, ""Building Successful Strategies,"" focuses on ""the three C's"": the customer, the corporation, the competition. Studying ""the fine shades of consumer wants"" can lead to the introduction of new products (in Japan, costly-but-clean electric space heaters, in lieu of cheap-but-dirty kerosene) or the reallocation of resources (say, from group to individual sales). As for the corporation, it ""does not have to have a clear lead in every function from sourcing to servicing. If it can gain a decisive edge in one key function, it will eventually be able to pull ahead. . . in other functions"": witness the overall Japanese advance from an edge in production technology, in the '60s, to preeminence in quality control and product design, to today's leadership in basic research and direct marketing. (Or, read how the US instant-film competition could be wiped out--by ""really speedy printing service."") There is much, much more--on international trends, on Japanese hyperdynamism, on the needful ""will to cope with criticism, hostility, and even derision."" Ohmae, an eclectic in the Peter Drucker vein, is instructive on every level.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1982
ISBN: 0070479046
Publisher: McGraw-Hill